(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Concert review - Infected Mushroom, with Randy Seidman and Seth Abrumz

28 January 2012 (Aggie Theatre, Ft. Collins CO)

A couple of DJ sets featuring a pair of go go dancers were the prelude for Infected Mushroom's rocking show. This was my first time seeing the band and I was blown away.

But first, let's run through the opening acts.

Seth Abrumz
Seth Abrumz seems to be the go-to local guy for all of the electronic-style touring artists passing through Ft. Collins. He's normally a solid DJ, with a nice ear for mixing techno, trance, and dance beats. His biggest weakness is that he doesn't work the audience more directly.

For this show, he introduced the set saying "I'm going to whip it up in a different style than I normally do." With that, he set up a moody, jungle beat groove. It wasn't bad, especially when he layered another beat into the mix. The problem was that he didn't really do much else exciting during his long set. Throughout his tracks, he'd periodically tweak the mix a little, but almost all the creative work was done when track was originally laid down.

Did I mention how long his set was? It dragged out over 100 (!) minutes. I was starting to wonder if the touring acts had gone missing and he was covering for them. With such a long set anchored in the same tempo zone, the only distraction were the two dancers grinding to the beat. That added a little bit of show, but a screen with mutating visuals would have helped pass the time.

Randy Seidman
With minimal fanfare, Abrumz ceded the state to Randy Seidman. The start of Seidman's DJ set was promising. He started off with a strong, progressive house groove. He had some interesting transitions. Early on, he tweaked a looped beat so it was offset to give a slight reggae vibe and then layered in a straight beat. Those kind of interesting mix ideas were cool.

Unlike Abrumz, Seidman danced around a lot and engaged with the crowd a bit. But a successful DJ set depends on the communication going both ways. The DJ needs to read the crowd and adjust his set to create the mood and get people dancing. Seidman tried, but never quite connected. He'd set up a break beat and then drop in the heavy bass to get everybody dancing. The audience seemed game, but each time, they settled back down within two or three measures.

In a dance club or rave, he probably would have done fine. But between Abrumz' long, steady set and the anticipation for Infected Mushroom, he faced a tough challenge. Not even the hot dancers could tip the balance.

Infected Mushroom
It was close to midnight, but the relatively weaker opening acts were quickly forgotten once Infected Mushroom started their set. Listening to them online, I expected that they'd be tightly locked into the electronic trance groove. They delivered that feel, but that was only a taste of their range. They had a full band line up with keys, a guitar, and drums. The arrangements took full advantage of this to create rocking electronic grooves that sounded like a hard rock takeover of the club scene.

The guitar was a huge element. Tom Cunningham, the guitarist, favored metal style riffs, crunching rhythms, and soaring harmonics. Despite his hyper playing, his stage presence came across like a laid back Slash. Erez Eisen's keyboards covered the bass lines, but also kept the hybrid sound anchored with electronic jams. Along with drummer Rogério Jardim, the band assembled and rocked the groove. Even so, it was singer Amit Duvdevani that sold it. He was incredibly charismatic.

With a rapper MC flair, Duvdevani worked the crowd, getting everyone dancing and moving whichever way he wanted. Along the way, his singing bridged the two background worlds at the heart of Infected Mushroom, shifting between a hard edged growl and a more theatrical style. A couple of high points included their cover of the Foo Fighters' The Pretender and a balls out version of Pink Nightmares, their recent single.

Aside from the driving music and Duvdevani's stage presence, Infected Mushroom threw in plenty of spectacle, from the giant inflatable mushroom to the dancing Wonderland girls to a bizarre Mirror Man. But that was just window dressing. The audience let the band transport them to a wild alternative space. It took a while to get there, but Infected Mushroom was worth the wait.

One interesting observation was that Infected Mushroom was only selling shirts, not music. While it's true that the albums almost pale in comparison to their live show, it was still a surprising decision. If you get the chance to see them live, don't hesitate.

More photos on my Flickr.

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